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Any thoughts on the Pistons tanking this season for a better chance at the #1 overall pick in the upcoming draft were squashed last night as the Pistons turned back the clock a bit, and beat the Lakers 88-85 in overtime at The Palace.  Games like this are the reason why I believe Lawrence Frank was the right hire for the job.  This game was a guaranteed loser on the schedule under former Coaches John Kuester and Michael Curry, because of the negative response from the veterans to coaches they didn’t respect.

Rodney Stuckey was by far the star of the night, and the main reason why the Pistons were in it to win it at the end.  Stuckey hit a big 3 pointer with 9.8 seconds left in the game to put the Pistons up 2, before Kobe came back to hit a clutch jumper to tie it up and send it to overtime.  In overtime, Tayshaun Prince nailed a key 20 footer to put the Pistons up 1 before Stuckey stepped to the charity stripe to knock down the final 2 free throws which put the Pistons ahead for good.

Rodney Stuckey over the Lakers

Photo/AP editing Need4Sheed.com

  • Rodney SssssssssssssssssssssssssTUCKey finished the night with 34 points on an efficient 13-20 from the floor.  He also finished 1-1 from the long line, and not only was it a key 3 pointer that I referenced earlier but if you’ll notice, Rodney has improved from the 3 point line this season.  He still doesn’t take a lot of 3s, but when he does he’s making them at a 35% clip – his career average is 28%.
  • Ben Gordon showed some flashes off the bench, and while he had a solid night off the bench, he was mostly playing off of Stuckey’s hot hand, as he finished 7-15 from the floor with a team high +24 +/- off the bench.
  • Jonas Jerebko finished a healthy 3-8 from the field with 2 key 3s – and a +10 on the night.
  • As usual, skilled low post scoring big men gave the Pistons front court trouble – Andrew Bynum finished with video game numbers (34 points/15 rebounds) and Pau Gasol finished with 20 and 10. 
  • Greg Monroe held his own on the glass – he finished with 15 rebounds (8 defensive and 7 offensive).  The Lakers’ size gave him fits on the block – he had a tough night offensively.
  • Super Rookie Brandon Knight wasn’t so good in this game – 0 points, -14 +/-.  The good news is he only turned the ball over 1 time.
  • What happened to Ron Artest? Metta World Peace?  He looks like a totally different player these days.  He and Tayshaun Prince have not aged well in their roles as starting SF on their respective teams.
  • Kobe, lose the black mask bro.  Rip Hamilton wears a clear mask every game to protect his nose.  It’s not about fashion, it’s about function.
  • Former Michigan Wolverine standout guard Darius Morris received a DNP-Coaches’ Decision for the Lakers as he remains buried in the rotation.
  • The Laker big men could not do anything to stop Stuckey from finishing in the lane.  Stuckey, who has had his issues in the past finishing at the rack, settled in a nice groove by attacking both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
  • Way to go Lakers Pistons fans!  Last night was the 3rd sellout of the season.
  • The Lakers are now 6-13 on the road.  The Pistons are 10-11 at home.

And let’s not forget this highlight of the night – Stuckey taking old man Kobe to school.

Rodney Stuckey breaks Kobe’s ankles

MAY THE GORES BE WITH YOU!!! (seriously, I didn’t think anyone wore shimmery shirts anymore?).  Gores should be a happy man – not only did the Pistons win a thrilling game against a team they’ve competed against 3 times in the Finals, but they did it in front of a sellout crowd that was reportedly 60% Lakers fans.  Way to go Pistons!

Tom Gores Pistos over the Lakers in OT

Photo/AP editing Need4Sheed.com

 Next up for the Pistons is Jeff Teague and the Atlanta Hawks on Friday at 7:30 at the Palace.  The Hawks are 7-8 in their last 15 games as they’ve fallen a bit on hard times as the injury to Al Horford has finally caught up with them.  Meanwhile on the other side of the court, the Pistons are on a bit of roll having pulled together wins in 9 of their last 15 games.  The Hawks are currently sitting in the 6th seed spot in the East, while the Pistons are 5 games back of the 8th spot.  The Hawks aren’t looking up too high though, as their playoff opponent (if the season ended today) the Orlando Magic are the 3 seed and they’re only up 1 game.

The Hawks have a lot to play for, whereas the Pistons are scraping together win after win and building confidence in their young core for the future.  With the way this rotation has settled in a bit lately, and the roll they’ve been on, I don’t see where Charlie Villanueva fits in when he comes back unless he takes Jason Maxiell’s minutes.  Maxiell has been providing solid numbers as the starting power forward since taking over for Ben Wallace.

A lot of moves have happened recently in the NBA, so let’s catch up on where our favorite former Pistons have landed:

  • Chauncey Billups was waived via the amnesty clause from the New York Knicks, and was claimed by the LA Clippers
  • Chris Wilcox signed a contract with the Boston Celtics
  • Richard Hamilton was waived via contract buyout from the Detroit Pistons, and was signed to a free agent deal by the Chicago Bulls
  • DaJuan Summers signed a contract with the New Orleans Hornets
  • Tracy McGrady has signed with the Atlanta Hawks
  • John Kuester was hired by the LA Lakers to be an Assistant Coach to Head Coach Mike Brown

A lot of you didn’t like what I had to say about Richard Hamilton’s time in Detroit, as a member of the Pistons.  Allow me to clarify:

  • I don’t blame Hamilton for the Pistons problems.
  • I don’t think Hamilton was the ring leader of last year’s buffoonery, but he was a willing participant.
  • Hamilton is one of the greatest Pistons in the history of the franchise.
  • Aside from Chauncey Billups, there is not a guy on the team I would trust more with a game winning shot than Hamilton.
  • It is not Hamilton’s problem he signed a virtually untradeable contract, he was offered the contract.
  • You can’t blame Hamilton for thinking he can still play at a high level, he was only 32 last year and is in great shape.

I believe Rip has the chance to be the “Rasheed Wallace” type of acquisition for last season’s #1 seed Chicago Bulls.  He will bring a veteran presence who has been through the wars, and could be a calming influence on Derrick Rose which will only make him better.  So many times last year, Rose was forced into being the go-to guy on a team with questionable backcourt support.  Kyle Korver and Keith Bogans are not as good as Rip Hamilton, who I think will give the team 25-30 quality minutes and is someone who should step right in and claim a starting spot based on ability alone.

The terms of the deal Rip signed with Chicago are 3 years 15 million (2 years fully guaranteed, 3rd year partially guaranteed).

I believe this deal puts Chicago over the top, and in direct competition with the Miami Heat for this season’s championship.  Even though I can’t go back and re-record the podcast from a couple of weeks ago where I proclaimed the Lakers to be the next champions, I will say that I believe the Bulls will be this year’s NBA champion now that some of the pieces have fallen (Chris Paul to Clippers, Dwight Howard staying in Orlando for now).

It’s clear by the comments on my previous Richard Hamilton post that the good lot of you will miss Rip even though the last few years have been underwhelming.  I wouldn’t be against seeing the Bulls or Clippers do well this season with the additions of Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups collectively.

In Chauncey Billups the LA Clippers acquired a guy who would’ve started and served as a mentor for Eric Bledsoe had they not been able to acquire Chris Paul.  Now Billups can start at shooting guard and backup Paul at the point until the offseason when the Clippers are able to acquire a pure shooting guard.

Chris Wilcox isn’t really guaranteed a spot in the rotation for the Boston Celtics, honestly he seems a little out of place on that team.  With the Celtics aging, and if Wilcox makes the team, he should play most of his minutes on the 3rd game of the back to back to backs and in the 2nd game of back to backs to keep KG fresh.  With Jeff Green missing the season with a heart aneurysm, Wilcox could step in with 15-20 minutes a night possibly at the backup PF and C positions depending on how Jermaine O’Neal holds up.

DaJuan Summers was never really given a shot with the Pistons, either by his overall lack of talent or with the coaches that were trying to keep their jobs by not giving him or Austin Daye playing time.  It’s hard to say that Summers wasn’t given a chance, because Jonas Jerebko stepped up and played important minutes as a rookie and would’ve played more minutes last year had he remained healthy.  Summers, known for his NBA-ready physique, has shown flashes in garbage time with the Pistons.  If he makes the New Orleans Hornets, he will be fighting for playing time with Quincy Pondexter and Al Farouq-Aminu behind returning starter Trevor Ariza.  Considering both Pondexter and Aminu are former 1st round picks, the Hornets would likely opt to keep their potential around than Summers, who couldn’t see playing time in a season where the main backup to the SF position on the Pistons was out for the season last year.

Tracy McGrady has signed a contract with the Atlanta Hawks, where he will serve as Joe Johnson’s primary backup with the departure of Jamal Crawford.  McGrady, who made the most of his time with the Pistons (while also being labeled a team cancer by Mr. Wieme), will be able to show the league that he is healthy and still can play important minutes in the league  on the playoff contending Hawks team.

McGrady spent time on the Pistons last season as the starting point guard, and first guard off the bench for the Pistons.  It was his first successful season since knee injuries began to de-rail his career with the Houston Rockets, and in his short stint with the New York Knicks where his expiring contract helped the Knicks line themselves up for the “Summer of 2010″ Free Agent class.

And John Kuester… LOL who cares?

Tom Gores toonAs reported on ESPN earlier, and also here by the dreamy Justin Rogers of MLive, the Pistons and Head Coach John Kuester will be going their separate ways after 2 long seasons with Kuester at the helm.

Kuester was 55 – 107 57 – 107 as coach of the Detroit Pistons.  This was the first NBA head coaching gig for the 56 year old Kuester, who was formerly an assistant coach under Coach Mike Brown and the Cleveland Cavaliers, after being a coach for the Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets and Boston Celtics.  Prior to his time in the NBA he was the head coach for the George Washington Colonials and Boston University Bears and as an assistant coach for the University of Richmond Spiders.

Coach Kuester was known for being an offensive mastermind after his time in Cleveland with LeBron James, but more importantly for the Pistons organization, he had served on former Piston coach Larry Brown’s staff in 2003-2004.

Kuester, a former University of North Carolina player, will likely be heading to the Los Angeles Lakers to be an assistant coach under new coach Mike Brown.  Brown, who was hired as LA Lakers head coach less than a week ago, had already expressed an interest in bringing Kuester over with him on his staff.

Kuester was never really accepted by the Pistons fans because his name either wasn’t Bill Laimbeer or he wasn’t Avery Johnson, etc.  Coach Kuester was put into a bad spot by the organization with a roster in transition, that was bound to decline after the success of the early 2000s.  Kuester was given Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva as free agents in his first season as coach, but the Pistons couldn’t find a home for eventual malcontent Richard Hamilton which left the team extraordinarily deep at the shooting guard position.

During his time with the Pistons, Kuester clashed with Rodney Stuckey and Richard Hamilton and often dealt with problems through the media rather than being straight forward with his players.  While no one should argue Kuester mismanaged the available talent, it should be noted that he never did establish a set rotation of players.  The Pistons roster is in flux after years of consistency, which is President Joe Dumars’ primary responsibility.

Moving forward, the Pistons have a steady core of young players with Greg Monroe and Jonas Jerebko.  Rodney Stuckey is coming off of another year of ups and downs and is a restricted free agent.  Ben Gordon and Charlie V are now going into their 3rd year of 5 year contracts (with player options for 6th years) as well.  Tayshaun Prince is an unrestricted free agent, and Richard Hamilton has 1 more fully guaranteed season left on his contract.

The next Pistons coach will be inheriting virtually the same roster as Kuester, minus Chris Wilcox and likely Tayshaun Prince.  There could be a chance that Prince is signed and traded, and while I had once thought he would be a good fit in LA with the Lakers, now that Coach Kuester is heading there as an assistant, it’s an unlikely destination.

What are your thoughts about Coach Kuester being out as the coach?  Is it a good move for the Pistons?  What do you think should be the next move?